ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After their popular “Backpack Program” wasn’t getting enough support to meet increased need this school year, the staff at Shaker Road Elementary School took it upon themselves to create their own solution to fill the backpacks. With support from the school community, an in-house food pantry collects and distributes food to families in need.

Each Friday items from the closet are put into backpacks and then head out to seven families to help 17 kids (and their parents). It’s filled with healthy foods plus gift cards for milk and eggs at Stewart’s Shops and Chobani yogurt. Trader Joe’s donates to the cause as well. Confidentiality is key for the program.

When the school staff stocks or re-stocks the food closet, they look for the standard things that will get kids healthy foods but also endure the mode of delivery (backpacks on buses). For example: Dry pasta and sauce, peanut butter & jelly, canned fruits and vegetables, breakfast cereals (hot & cold), healthy snacks, etc. 

Items they’re looking for are as follows:

  • Pasta
  • Canned beans
  • Bags of dried beans
  • Oatmeal packets (low sugar)
  • Boxes of Mac & Cheese
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Healthy granola bars
  • Canned soups, including Vegetarian
  • Dried fruit
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Fettuccine Alfredo sauce
  • Fruit roll-ups

The school community collects food donations through different mode. A red cooler sits in front of Shaker Road Elementary School so parents and students can drop off donations directly in the cooler.

If you want to donate to the food closet, reach out to Carmen Boardman at or Kristy Scalise